- from the bondage of holding onto unforgiveness, anger, bitterness and strife. It’s just what you do when you love someone, and if you don’t love them enough to do so, then you need to love God enough to obey, asking for HIS strength and HIS heart for the other.
ASKING FOR FORGIVENESS instead of just saying, “I’m sorry,” also requests a response from the hurt and offended. It requires THEM to give an answer and makes it difficult to hold a grudge against you. Asking for forgiveness when the other was also in the wrong , is extremely difficult to do, but take responsibly for YOUR behavior. Whatever the other If they do not humble themselves, and that is between them and God.
DO NOT TAKE on what is not yours.
You know the situation. We’ve all been there:
• The “elephant” in the room is HUGE and it’s hard to get around.
• The tension is high and something has shifted.
• You know something is wrong, but you don’t know what.
• You’re so upset, you can’t make heads or tails of the situation
• You’re angry and can’t see how the other person is hurting (or don’t WANT to see).
• You’re afraid to communicate because that route always ends up in an argument.
• You’re not ready to care for THEIR feelings when you’re hurting too.
• You don’t know what to do, but “time will take care of it.”
• You may know what upset them, but you feel you are in the right, and so…
The excuses go on until the problem is supposedly forgotten, or you both just shut your hearts down and add one more brick to the wall between the two of you. Does any of this sound familiar? Some people are good at forgiving and moving on, but a lot of us keep adding bricks to build a bigger barrier between our heart and theirs.
Why the wall? To seal off the pain caused from broken trust. The thicker the wall, through, the more likely love between you and the other isn’t nourished. The wall transforms into an insurmountable canyon that no one seems able to cross and thus, many relationships cannot recover from.
Pain Closes Hearts
You might have a heart to work out the problem, but not everything that needs to be communicated CAN be communicated. Maybe one or both of you are:
• locked in pain
• under stress and can’t hear the other
• filtering the other’s actions and words through old hurts
• wrapped up in your own life, so the timing is not good
• filtering the other’s actions and words through the lies of the enemy,
so you can’t see truth.
Trying to forget the painful situation and move on doesn’t work most of the time because pain doesn’t usually get forgotten about. Instead, the hurtful event helps to build a defense against future pain by adding another brick to the wall around your heart. This wall assures you that you’re not loved as you would like to be - thus, pride sprouts (and face it, every human being struggles with sin. Pride, in particular, was the first sin on the scene when Lucifer challenged God after thinking that he could “do better”). When pride grows, trust and intimacy wither — 2 KEY INGREDIENTS required for love to flourish.
Remember that light and dark cannot occupy the same space. Pride is of the enemy and not from God. It’s His design and desire that love be a constant force in our lives.
The only way out of every conflict is to let God lead you out, asking for forgiveness for yourself and your pride (see 2 minute “Quick Cleanse” to walk you through this process), asking for strength to forgive the other, asking for HIS vision of what is really important, and asking for a revelation of what His heart is for the other. Only “The Master Surgeon” knows the heart of the problem and the solution to fixing it. Only in total surrender to God, drawing near to Him, can relationships be restored.
Dying to self is the Magic Key to restoration. During this dying season, we come to the cross, let go of the things that are not Christ, and take hold of that which He desires for us. We don’t do this in our own power but by His strength while the Lord Jesus holds us, empowers us, prunes us, and grows us.
While this is hard to do, the only alternative is to keep building walls around your heart. This wall begins the dying process of relationships. It’s the start of bitterness and opens the door to other kinds of pain and heartache, like anger. Bitterness and anger lead to death. To avoid death at all costs, we need to push past our pride and move toward restoration.
You may find these “phrases of restoration” almost impossible to say aloud. If you stumble, that is an indication of another heart issue between you and your heavenly Father, that needs resolving at the throne of grace.
Restoration “Stumbling Blocks”
There can be a DEEPER hurt or pain that may present itself as a stumbling block towards the steps of restoration, making it hard to approach another with an open heart. God has to open our heart and pluck the sliver out of it. Then we need HIS heart toward the other person if ours is still wounded, weak or hindered. This happens as we surrender our hearts to His Will and leading. Invite Him into your relationships, surrendering in humility and being open to change that comes with “the refining fire.”
Ask the Lord what is REALLY in the way of pursuing restoration. You may feel devalued, abandoned or rejected,which may also be seeds that have been sown in the past by others, but the base of these emotions is still the nasty enemy of PRIDE, like feeling sorry for yourself and holding onto hurts, grudges or lies about yourself (as in “I’m ugly,” or “I don’t measure up,” or “I can never do anything right.”) These lies cause you to react to situations now which may simulate the past feelings of hurt and pain. Resolving pride or bitterness at the throne is mandatory so that we can receive breakthrough on those strongholds.
Ask the Lord, in prayer, to show you the root cause of the problem, asking for forgiveness for any pride that may hold you back. Our Pain Words section suggests many such “stumbling blocks” that you may identify with. Taking them through the prayer at the bottom of that page or through the 2 Minute Quick Cleanse will help you find the release you need to move forward. Once this is done, then approach restoration with the other.
3 BEST Phrases of Restoration
IF YOU IMPLEMENT THESE PHRASES, THE RESULTS WILL BE IMMEDIATE! You may not see all of the results you hoped for right away, but you WILL see a softening of a heart that is trying to open up. The initial results depend on what’s been happening with you and the other parties involved up to now. So if you haven’t tried these steps in, let’s say 30 years, it may take a while to start rebuilding trust and love.
Another important result of practicing this exercise is that it makes it easier to do again. It breaks through the wall of YOUR defenses and brings a spirit of humility to the restoration process. This continues to build your “restoration toolbox.”
1) “I’m Sorry...”
Sometimes, this may be all that is needed for restoration, so be sensitive to the other person’s reaction. A rendered and open heart toward the other is the most important thing for you to have. Watch for the same from them. Once these words are spoken, restoration might immediately begin with little else said. Or the apology might need more of an explanation on what you are truly sorry for.
Most people really need to feel that they are understood and their pain is validated; so if you understand why they are hurt, share this with them. Or you can share that you really want to understand why they hurt. Ask them to share more of their feelings with you. Repeat their words back to them so they once again feel understood. (See A Restoration Conversation for more help on the type of conversation that helps restore the heart.)
Fault does not matter!
Whether you believe it’s your FAULT, or not,that others are hurting is irrelevant. They may hurt because of what someone did to them in the past, and your actions just “tripped their trigger” of pain. Even if this is the case, they still need to know that you care for their heart and don’t want to see them in pain, nor do you want to be the cause of that pain.
I say “I’m sorry” to my husband all the time when he is struggling with issues at work; and he responds, “WHY? YOU didn’t do anything.” So I tell him that “I’m sorry that you’re hurting because I don’t like to see you in pain.”
Saying, “I’m sorry” doesn’t always say ,“I was wrong.” It sometimes says, “I’m sorry that you are hurting.”
2) “I was WRONG”
Now, saying, “I was wrong” DOES say you were wrong. If you’re in the wrong, then you know that it’s best to fess up or else; the pride of un-confessed sin will eat at you to the point that you will struggle greatly as you try to come into the Lord’s presence. It will also hinder your prayers (1 Peter 3:7, Proverbs 15:29, Psalm 66:18).
(Remember that since God IS LOVE, and because He told US to love, an unloving attitude IS SIN and needs to be repented of and renounced.)
The “Face Saver”
Even if you WERE RIGHT in whatever happened, knowing the other is in pain means that you were wrong to think that the issue shouldn’t matter so much to them. You can apologize and say, “I was wrong to cause you pain.” Or “I was were wrong to even argue in the first place.”
3) “Will You Forgive Me?”
You may need to ask the Lord for strength and courage to carry this one out. But first, you might ask, “Can’t I just go on about things and wait for them to eventually forget about the incident or forgive me?” The answer is No.
Asking for forgiveness helps THEM RELEASE their hold against you…their anger against you, which helps THEM get release from the trap of anger and unforgiveness. It will also help you build YOUR “restoration toolbox” in the area of humility.
The enemy can have a heyday here. He plants by throwing in so many interpretations of what happened between you two that the relationship is almost destroyed. When lies prevail,everybody suffers greatly. Only God’s restorative light can release them - and you - from that trap!
For if you forgive people their trespasses their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment, your heavenly Father will also forgive you (Matthew 6: 14).
Asking for Forgiveness releases them…
I’m not asking you to apologize for what is not your part in any conflict. When my ex-husband was lost in a porn addiction, I did not apologize for his decisions and choices, nor did I apologize for his addiction. He needed to take responsibility for his own choices; but as I pursued his heart, there were times that I had to ask for forgiveness for arguing, and take responsibility for my OWN choices that were not godly. Before God, be clear about what is your sin.
ALL conflict is caused by SIN
…and nothing is hidden from God.
There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13).
An examination of the situation is needed before God. If you struggle with asking for forgiveness for your contribution of sin in this issue, you need to repent to the Lord for holding your ideals higher than His authority and thinking you know so much more than God on what is best for life.
God’s heart is always about total restoration, so if you lack the strength, wisdom, or character to follow through, then bow before the throne and ask Him for it. HE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU!
A heart towards restoration.
Whether it is at work or in your marriage or maybe it’s a relationship with your kids, restoration is ALWAYS the Lord‘s will for you. His very PRESENCE is promised to us through it:
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).